Thursday, May 23, 2013

For Those Of Us Who Aren't Denim-Heads...

Over the past few years there has been a growing craze for high-quality denim in the menswear world. Gone are the days of the 90's dad-jeans, and jeans are no longer relegated to casual-only settings. These days, denim works just as well with a blazer as it does a ratty T-shirt, and it's not out of the norm to be dropping up to $200 a pair.

Now, for those of us who aren't denim-heads (see how I used the title there?), there are a lot of terms thrown around that you're probably very used to hearing but don't know exactly what they mean, the most common of these being 'selvage' or 'selvedge' denim. Personally, this is one of those terms that I looked up a few times way back when I started to develop my own style, but when my girlfriend asked me the other day what it meant, I realized I had a really hard time explaining it, so this post is as much for my own good as it is any of yours.

Selvage (or selvedge in the UK) is actually short for 'self-edge,' and can refer to really any type of fabric, but most often you will hear it in reference to denim. It describes a specific method of finishing the edges of a woven fabric. In an earlier post on chambray fabric, I explained the difference between 'warp' and 'weft' threads. With selvage denim, the 'self-edge' runs vertically (parallel to the warp), and is created by the weft threads being looped back at the end of each row. The result is an edge that, unlike a cut and hemmed edge, won't fray or unravel. My understanding is that this method tends to be more expensive because the size of each piece of denim is determined during the weaving process, as the edges are woven in, where standard edges are merely cut and hemmed and can therefore really be implemented anywhere on the cloth.

Gustin's #48 Selvage Denim

Ok, quick disclaimer: nobody chew my head off if I'm a little off-base here. I'm not a seamster (yep, drawing a blank on the masculine term for seamstress, so I'm making up my own word), and like I said before, I'm not a denim-head, so this is all based off some quick research and my own rudimentary understanding. That said, this information goes quite a ways in explaining both the appeal of selvage denim and the more costly nature of the fabric.

As I mentioned, these days selvage denim of a decent quality (we recommend staying away from most low-end options like JCP selvage, based off relatively unfavorable feedback across the boards), but some lower-cost options are out there that are worth your hard-earned dollars but won't leave you penniless at the end of the day. The one brand that we've been hearing great things about is the up-and-coming Gustin denim out of San Francisco. Launched via a very successful Kickstarter campaign and still run based off a crowd-sourcing model, Gustin is yet another brand kicking out all those middle-men and designing, manufacturing, and retailing all of their own apparel. This allows them to offer high quality denim in a constantly-changing variety of weights and washes for a low standard price of only $81. I personally haven't gotten to try a pair yet, mainly because I have a pair of dark blue jeans that I love and another pair isn't top priority on my summer shopping-list, but the general reaction has been only positive and the price can't be beat. I definitely plan on snagging a pair when my budget is better aligned to do so, and will for-sure give you folks a detailed review when I do.

On that note, sorry to not be giving you a 'memorial day cook-out' post or something along those lines, but it was only 45 degrees in Chicago when I left my apartment this morning, so I'm really not in the mood. Deal with it. 

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